She guards the safety of pool-loving swimmers

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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It’s a dream job. Out by the pool, suntan lotion, bronze bodies, bathing suits and lots of sun. Seventeen-year-old Kyann Washkowiak has a summer post as a pool lifeguard and it’s a job she loves. From June into August Washkowiak hangs out by the pool getting a tan, helping others have a good time in the water. A life-long Meadow Vista resident, Washkowiak sort of grew up with the job, and ever since she can remember she been hanging around a pool. Washkowiak’s mother managed the Auburn Recreation District’s pool in Meadow Vista and Washkowiak was always at the pool with her. “My mom was manager at the pool and ever since I was six months old or so I was on the pool deck. I kind of grew up in the business,” Washkowiak said. Washkowiak now works at the Auburn Recreation District’s Marsha Skinner Pool in Auburn. She’s been a lifeguard for three years and is also a swim instructor for children ages 3 to 14. Washkowiak began leading swim instruction four years ago at the Meadow Vista pool before she became a lifeguard. Both jobs require training and certification courses. Three years ago when she was old enough, Washkowiak took the classes and became a lifeguard. Her mandatory courses were general first aid training, Title 22 advanced first aid training for public personnel, CPR training, AED certification which is automated external defibrillator training, and she also had to be certified in lifeguard rescue techniques. Washkowiak is highly trained in lifeguard safety for emergencies, but really her job most of the time is to help people have a safe, enjoyable swim experience. “I’ve had a few rescues, but generally you get the little kids that go too far in the deep end and you have to jump in and grab them,” Washkowiak said. “It’s rare but we’ve had kids hit their heads on the diving board. Sometimes I’ll help elderly people get out of the pool safely.” Washkowiak is one of the head lifeguards at the pool and a typical summer day goes like this: She is one of the swim instructors for weekday morning swim lessons from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then she’s one of seven lifeguards for open public swim that begins when the morning swim lessons are over at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 4:15 in the afternoon. From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Washkowiak again teaches one of the evening swim lesson classes. It a long day but Washkowiak finds it rewarding. “I really like being out helping people, being with the kids,” she said. “We have a great staff here, and it’s an enjoyable place to be.” Washkowiak is a local product, and will start her senior year at Colfax High School in the fall. After playing soccer, basketball and volleyball since her freshman year, Washkowiak has dedicated herself to just the swim team for her senior year. She has two older brothers and would like to attend CSU Chico or CSU Sacramento and major in sports marketing and design. Most days her job seems like a fun and a good way to get a tan, but a potentially serious side to her job is always there. “It’s about saving peoples’ lives. It’s on you if you make a mistake,” she said. “It’s a serious thing.”